blog home Criminal Defense What Is a California Bench Warrant?

What Is a California Bench Warrant?

By San Diego Attorney on May 10, 2023

Arrest Warrant document with reading glasses

A bench warrant is a court order issued by a judge for failure to appear in court, pay a fine, or comply with another court order. Once a bench warrant is issued, police can treat it as an arrest warrant. They can search you out, take you into custody, and bring you into court. When a bench warrant has been issued on you, law enforcement can arrest you at any time.

What Is the Difference Between a Bench Warrant and an Arrest Warrant?

Judges have sole discretion over whether to issue a bench warrant. An arrest warrant, on the other hand, requires that police gather sufficient evidence of criminal activity to establish probable cause for an arrest. They present this evidence to a judge, who may issue an arrest warrant. While bench warrants are typically for contempt of court matters, such as failure to appear, failure to pay fines, or failure to obey court orders, arrest warrants are issued when there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

How Are Bench Warrants Issued?

A bench warrant is a legal order for arrest issued by a judge, who must have probable cause to believe the person has failed to appear or violated a court order. This type of warrant is most often used when a person is considered to be in contempt of court. A judge may also issue a bench warrant if an individual is indicted by a grand jury and is not in custody at the time of indictment. The bench warrant will contain the person’s name and description and the reason for the warrant.

Law enforcement officers are responsible for executing bench warrants or arresting the individuals for whom the warrants were issued and bringing them before the court. For misdemeanor offenses, bench warrants must be executed between 6 am and 10 pm. Felony bench warrants may be executed at any time of day or night.

Once an individual has been arrested for a bench warranted, police officers will bring him or her before a judge. It may be the judge that issued the warrant, a judge in the county where the person was arrested, or any judge in the county in which the warrant was issued. The judge will determine what action to take. The person who was arrested may be released with a warning or may be held in custody in some cases.

What Are the Consequences of a Bench Warrant in California?

If a bench warrant for your arrest has been issued, you run the risk of being arrested and taken into custody at any time of the day or night. You may be denied bail or released on higher bail if arrested. You may face additional criminal charges for failure to appear in court or comply with a court order. A warrant can have a negative impact on your future employment, housing, and other opportunities.

How Do You Resolve a Bench Warrant?

If you become aware or suspect that a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest, contact an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. It may be advisable to turn yourself in with the assistance of your lawyer. However, it is important to seek legal counsel before surrendering to court custody.

At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we may be able to help you clear a bench warrant while avoiding arrest, time in jail, and high fines. Our founding attorney is a former LAPD police officer and a board-certified criminal law specialist. We use our insight into how the “other side” works for the benefit of our clients. Contact us at (760) 630-2000.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense

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